Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 9 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The SMM followed up on reports of persons injured and killed from the explosion of hand grenades in Khartsyzk and Makiivka, and observed damage caused by shelling in residential areas of Sakhanka. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including at two permanent storage sites, a heavy weapons holding area, and a compound, all in areas outside government control.* It facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure near Shchastia, Novozvanivka,Yuzhna-Lomuvatka, Artema, and Zalizne.

In Donetsk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 100 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 150 explosions).

On the night of 8-9 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, two projectiles in flight from east to west, two projectiles from north-west to south-east, 20 projectiles from east to west, an undetermined explosion, a projectile from west to east, an undetermined explosion, five projectiles from east to west, three projectiles from west to east, an undetermined explosion, five projectiles from east to west, ten undetermined explosions, five projectiles from west to east, four projectiles from east to west, seven projectiles from west to east, three projectiles from east to west, a projectile form west to east, six projectiles from east to west, a projectile from west to east, four projectiles from south-east to north-west, four undetermined explosions, a projectile from east to west, and an undetermined explosion, all 0.5-1.5km south. The following evening, the same camera recorded, in sequence, two explosions assessed as impacts, two projectiles in flight from east to west, a projectile in flight from south-east to north-west, nine explosions assessed as impacts, four undetermined explosions, and an explosion assessed as an impact, all 0.5-1.5km south.

In the early morning of 9 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded an undetermined explosion 5-8km north. The following evening, the same camera recorded 17 projectiles in flight from east to west 5-8km north.

Positioned at the south-western edge of “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about two hours, the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions, as well heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-8km west and north-west.

Positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) for over five hours, the SMM heard 17 explosions, as well heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-7km at directions ranging from east to west.

On the evening of 8 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard ten undetermined explosions, as well heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 4-6km south-east, and three undetermined explosions 6km west.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 60 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 75 explosions).

On the evening of 8 November, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM recorded four explosions assessed as outgoing mortar (82mm) rounds, 25 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and about 30 shots of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) and automatic-grenade-launcher fire, all 3-5km south-east and south-west.

During the day on 9 November, positioned 3km west of government-controlled Orikhove-Donetske (44km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 11 undetermined explosions 4-8km south-south-east.

Positioned 2km east of government-controlled Kriakivka (38km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 18 undetermined explosions 3-5km south-west.

Positioned 4km west of “LPR”-controlled Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard two undetermined explosions assessed as artillery rounds 10km south-west.

In “DPR”-controlled Khartsyzk (36km east of Donetsk) and Makiivka (12km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM followed up on reports of people injured and killed following the use of hand grenades in disputes. In Khartsyzk, a woman (early twenties) told the SMM that on 1 October, her former boyfriend (22 years old and allegedly an ex‑“DPR” member) had detonated a hand grenade while arguing with another man (27 years old). She said the former boyfriend had been hospitalized while the other man had been killed. (See SMM Daily 2 November 2017) In Makiivka, several residents told the SMM that, on 28 October, a man had detonated a hand grenade during an argument with his girlfriend. On 2 November, medical staff at a hospital in Makiivka had told the SMM that a man and a woman (35 and 19 years old, respectively) had been admitted on 28 October.

The SMM observed damage from shelling in a residential area. At a house at 18 Myru Street in “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed shattered south-facing windows, a tree 15m from the house with broken branches, shrapnel scars and missing foliage, and alloy shrapnel on the ground under the tree. The owner of the house at 18 Myru Street and one of her neighbours (both women in their forties) told the SMM that at around 17:00 on 8 November they had seen “a fireball in the sky” followed by an explosion nearby. The SMM assessed the damage to have been caused by a round of an undetermined weapon fired from a westerly direction, which had exploded upon impacting the tree.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On the evening of 7 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded, in sequence, a tracer round in flight from south-east to north-west, 0.1-1km west (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area); three undetermined explosions, two airbursts, two explosions assessed as impacts and two undetermined explosions, all 3-5km west-north-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area); two tracer rounds in flight from east to west and six projectiles in flight from west to east, 0.5-2km south (assessed as inside the disengagement area); and an undetermined explosion 3-5km west-north-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

On 9 November, positioned at the disengagement areas near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and Zolote, and in Petrivske, the SMM observed calm situations. In Petrivske, an armed “DPR” member told the SMM it was not allowed to fly its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) despite having informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) of its intent to do so. While waiting for clarification, the SMM heard a voice on the “DPR” member’s hand-held radio saying (in Russian), “Tell the machine-gunner to take up the position, just in case.”

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In non-government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw six self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and observed as missing 12 mortars (11 PM-38, 120mm, and a 2B11 Sani, 120mm). The Mission was also denied access to one such site,* and thus could not verify the presence or absence of six multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm).

The SMM revisited two permanent storage sites, whose locations were beyond the respective withdrawal lines in non-government-controlled areas, but was denied access to one of them.* At the other, it noted eight tanks (three T-64 and five T-72) were missing, while all weapons present were visibly non-operational (all were heavily rusted, one was without tracks).

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles, anti-aircraft guns[2] and the digging of trenches in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed two IFVs (BMP-1) near Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk) and a stationary armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BRDM-2) near Komyshuvakha (68km west of Luhansk). In non-government-controlled areas, the SMM observed a stationary APC (MT-LB) in Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk), an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) being towed south by a truck near Yasynuvata, and men in military-style clothing digging trenches north-west of Styla (34km south of Donetsk).

The SMM again observed anti-tank mines (TM-62M) south of government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). (See SMM Daily Report 26 August 2017.) Along a 30m stretch of road H15, the SMM observed approximately 15 anti‑tank mines not more than 20m north of the roadway. Seven of the mines were laid in a row on a north-south axis; the remainder appeared to have been placed randomly.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to the power plant in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), high-voltage lines between government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) and Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), power lines between Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (60km west of Luhansk) and Veselohorivka (64km west of Luhansk), the Petrivske water pumping station near government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and the phenol sludge reservoir near government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM visited four border areas not under government control.* During its presence for half an hour at a border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed eight pedestrians entering Ukraine; no armed formation members were observed. At a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), in an hour, the SMM saw six cars with Ukrainian licence plates, three covered cargo trucks with Russian Federation licence plates and ten pedestrians entering Ukraine, as well as ten cars and a bus (all with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine. At a border crossing point near Uspenka (73km south-east of Donetsk), in an hour, the SMM observed three cars (one with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “DPR” plates) entering Ukraine, as well as six cars (one with Ukrainian and four with Russian Federation licence plates, one with “DPR” plates) and one covered cargo truck with Ukrainian licence plates exit Ukraine. At a pedestrian border crossing near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk), in 20 minutes, the SMM observed no traffic.

The SMM continued monitoring in Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

*Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so. (See, for example, SMM Daily Report 23 October 2017.) The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • The SMM was denied access to a “DPR” permanent storage site as no one was present. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was denied access to a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • An armed “DPR” member denied the SMM access to a compound 3km west of “DPR”-controlled Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk). The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • In Petrivske, an armed “DPR” member told the SMM it was not allowed to fly its UAV despite having informed the JCCC of its intent to do so. While waiting for clarification, the SMM heard a voice on the “DPR” member’s hand-held radio saying (in Russian), ““Tell the machine-gunner to take up the position, just in case.”

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An “LPR” member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC at a checkpoint on the northern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed.
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM did not travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Delay:

  • The SMM was denied access to a “DPR” permanent storage site. The SMM informed the JCCC and, when the SMM returned five hours later, it was able to enter the site.

 

[1]Please see the annexed report for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational. Nine SMM cameras are in a testing phase, to last until 30 November 2017.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.